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LG G5 impressions: Our first 24 hours with LG's latest flagship phone

Jon Phillips | March 17, 2016
Ahead of the phone's official launch, LG sent us a "pre-production preview" version of the G5. It's been a mix of highs and lows.

Other interface changes can be found in the camera app—and they’re big, big changes.

The G5 comes with two rear-facing cameras. The main camera has an f/1.8 aperture, and shoots 16-megapixel images with a relatively traditional 78-degree field of view. But let’s say you want a wider angle shot. Let’s say you want to get more people into the frame, or want to shoot a sweeping vista. Simply by pinch-zooming in the camera preview, you can automagically switch to the second camera. It has a f/2.4 aperture, and shoots 8-megapixel images in a 135-degree field of view.

Here we see the wide-angle rear camera in full effect with a 135-degree field of view. Note the slight distortion on the edges of the image. At the very top of the preview interface, you can also see how the wide-angle icon is lit in green. Credit: Matt Straus

I haven’t done any serious photo testing (remember: we’re looking at a pre-production preview unit). Still, I can see people using the second camera—its poorer specs notwithstanding—for certain situations. I also give props to LG for continuing to deliver the best software camera controls in the smartphone space. (Because, yes, all the amazing manual cameras controls that made the G4 so great—including manual focus, ISO settings and a 30-second shutter speed—remain in the G5).

In the image above, note the little green bar toward the bottom of the zoom slider. This is the point at which one camera hands off duties to the other. When you’re pinch-zooming, the software also “catches” at the point of the camera transition, requiring extra pressure before you make the switch. See, it’s the little things that separate great design from merely good.

OK, so that’s the basic dual camera concept. But it can also be used with more malevolent intent. A new Pop-Out Picture mode let’s you combine two images taken with both cameras on a single click. The interior image comes from the wide-angle lens. The exterior image is shot by the standard lens, and here you can apply all sorts of special effects. BUT PLEASE DON’T. Just look at the screenshot above. It’s worse than Snapchat.

Early benchmarks, with so much more to come

Once again, I have to remind you that we tested a pre-production preview unit. The final user experience could change. Still, we did run some benchmarks, and found that from a pure performance perspective, the LG G5 ran in the same ballpark as the Galaxy S7, which shares the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.

Actually, it’s perhaps unfair to say they were in the same ballpark. They were practically sitting in the same seat.


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